Boxing, The Weekend That Was. Liverpool, Vegas & Beyond
It was a night where boxing showed what it is in the most primitive form. In Liverpool and then a few hours later in Las Vegas, it was blood, guts, glory and that horrible taste of defeat.
The likes of Ted Cheeseman, Anthony Fowler and Deontay Wilder gave everything and a little bit more, but still left the ring defeated. A bitter and painful reminder that boxing is a lonely sport where you can bare your soul and that still isn’t enough.
Cheeseman and Troy Williamson served up probably the best and most violent fight I have ever seen live. It was a wonderful display of heart, but worryingly so. Cheeseman takes way too many punches, the end in the 10th, was uncomfortable. For a few minutes, you worried he had taken one punch too many. Williamson took his share and looked on the brink of defeat several times himself. Both will hurt this morning, they deserve every penny they earned. The British title, a belt with real meaning, but it was still an irrelevance in a fight that was about so much more.
Liam Smith won a fight with local pride at stake. Anthony Fowler threatened to end the career of Smith, before what we expected beforehand came to fruition. Fowler heavily booed beforehand, less so afterwards, played his part in a savage fight where levels decided the outcome.
Shannon Courtenay is a fighter that divides opinion, and I am being kind. There is something about her that many can’t seem to warm to. Her time in Liverpool highlighted plenty why there is a certain narrative about her. Missing weight on Friday came with the excuse that left many unconvinced. The claims that she beat Jamie Mitchell were farcical and straight from fantasy island. Courtenay has come a long way in her life, but she needs to learn some humility.
Mitchell was a class above and a thoroughly deserved winner. She has suffered plenty in her life, boxing has probably saved her. A story I hope to soon tell.
The scorecards were close, the fight was anything but. Courtenay will get her rematch, but after missing weight and losing so heavily, it’s a rematch she frankly doesn’t deserve.
Tyson Fury settled his feud with Deontay Wilder in a sensational fight in Las Vegas. Fury was down twice and looked set for defeat. Wilder also had visits to the canvas before the end came in the 11th. Even when the body and his limited skills were failing him, he still kept on trying to salvage the fight. It was desperate, tragic and inspiring.
Wilder needs to accept many things to change, he too needs a dose of humility and acceptance.
But he is a true fighting man with no quit in him. Wilder relied on one thing for too long. He has one trick, but it is some trick. The punch has saved him before. It very nearly did so again.
Fury proved he is the best heavyweight on the planet, but still gave hope to his rivals. The current generation of heavyweights are a pale shadow of the past, but they still offer plenty of excitement and intrigue. Fights with the likes of Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte are in the future for Fury. He will quite rightly start favourite against all three. But make no mistake, all three have chances to beat him.
We have seen many things that are good about boxing in the last few days, even more, dodgy scorecards can’t spoil that. Even though they tried. But there is an untold story in Liverpool. A fighter who deserves better, treated disgracefully, a pawn in a game of spite and revenge. Just because you hear one side, you don’t always have to believe the hype. You simply don’t treat people like that.
In many ways, we have seen the good, the bad and downright ugly of the sweet science in the last few days. Boxing is what it is, but as good as it can be, it badly needs a deep clean.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williamson/Top Rank